all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:7-8 ESV)
Part of the image of God given all people is dominion, or the authority to direct, the privilege to use, and the responsibility to care for. Adam and Eve were given authority and responsibility over the earth. Neither they nor their progeny own the earth and though all people still carry the image of God none have actual dominion. The earth and all that is in it, is in rebellion against Man. Just as all are in rebellion against God so all of the earth is in rebellion against Man. Yet, parts of the earth are under the control and in submission to Man. Just as some people are under God’s control and in submission to Him.
Domesticated animals are, for the most part, under the control and authority of Man. The wild beasts are not under Man’s control, and either run away from Man or fight against Man. With very few exceptions, the birds and the fish, flee when Man approaches.
God owns all things and has ultimate dominion over all creation. All living things whose home is the Earth are under the feet of Jesus, the Son of God. To us, in our sinful condition, placing anything under someone’s feet suggests malevolent intent. God is not malevolent but benevolent. His intent is to care for all things He has created. Everything that is alive which He created is under the feet of Jesus, the Son of God.
However, sinful people want to be in control.
Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will he spend the night at your manger? Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes, or will he harrow the valleys after you? Will you depend on him because his strength is great, and will you leave to him your labor? Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain and gather it to your threshing floor? (Job 39:9-12 ESV)
Throughout history, people have tried to conquer nature and wild animals. Some try to make pets of animals like snakes, big or little cats, birds and lizards. Or, people try to use wild animals as entertainment, in circuses and street shows. Many cities have zoos, so people can watch animals they may never see in the wild. Though people still have the image of God, which includes dominion, the vessel is damaged and corrupted but the image is not. Consequently, there is an internal desire and natural tendency to want control. With a nature corrupted by sin the craving to control springs from malevolent intent, not benevolent authority.
God, in placing all things under the feet of Jesus, drives home the truth and reality that He owns all creation. Under His dominion wild animals do not become domesticated but do inherently recognize Him as the Alpha leader and submit to His direction. So too, the birds and fish and all that lives in the waterways and seas, know instinctively His authority and place over them in the natural scheme of things. The Psalmist is speaking about the natural world. When the Psalmist says whatever passes along the paths of the seas the interpretation is not man-made ships but sea mammals such as whales and dolphins. All earthly creatures naturally submit to the authority of God given to His Son. He will not put leashes on them, make them entertain the masses or take them out of their natural habitat for all to see.Eventually, in God’s plan and purpose, all things will be made new and eternally adhere to the natural laws He determined.